A new healthcare qualification has been launched for the first time in the North East at Teesside University.

The Nursing Associate is designed to support healthcare assistants and the registered nursing workforce in delivering hands on care to patients.

The pilot for this new role has been funded by Government and a total of 35 sites nationwide have been chosen to deliver the pilot for the new qualification.  Teesside University is the only institution in the North-East to offer the two-year course.

The first cohort of 92 students on the Nursing Associate Foundation Degree have begun their studies at the Centre for Professional and Executive Development at the University’s Darlington campus.

All of the students are employed by health care providers in the North East and the course has been developed in close consultation with partners across the region.

The course is a work-based learning model which mixes classroom teaching alongside work placements to ensure students gain the necessary technical knowledge and practical experience.

Speaking at the launch of the new course, Derek Marshall, Chief Workforce Strategist and Planner for Health Education England North East, said: “For us in the NHS it was very important to develop this qualification in partnership with the University.

“It’s a fantastic mixture of established academic learning which students can consolidate with their employment.

“It also provides a good platform for students to develop further skills and, should they wish, go on to study nursing programmes.”

Gill Hunt, Director of Nursing at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which was the lead organisation in the bid for the pilot, added: “We have a fantastic network of healthcare providers across the region who have worked in partnership with the University to develop this course.

“This model ensures that everybody has the same level of qualification and expertise which will result in a much better consistency of care.”

The Nursing Associate role is currently being developed as a Higher Apprenticeship which will allow students to gain the Foundation Degree qualification funded through the new apprenticeship levy. Teesside University will offer this as soon as it becomes available with an anticipated start date of September 2017.

Dean of the school, Marion Grieves, said: “We’re very excited to be running this pilot and helping build the nursing workforce in the North East.

“We have a very robust partnership with NHS healthcare providers and are very pleased that we have been able to work together with them to meet their training needs.”

For more information on health and social care qualifications at Teesside University visit www.tees.ac.uk/health&socialcare.